Thoughts following the loss to the Twins

Logan lets the lead get away in loss to Twins
A-Rod day-to-day with sore left foot
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Hard to believe it, but the regular season ends one week from today. The schedule seems to pass a little quicker every year. Anyway, the Yankees need some combination of wins and Angels losses totaling five to clinch a playoff berth, but we’re all focusing on the AL East crown. The magic number to win the division is just seven. That’s bigger than it appears.

1. The old saying is that you should beat up on the bad teams and hold your own against the good ones, but the Yankees are now just 3-3 against the Twins this year. They’ve historically owned Minnesota, winning 63 of the 80 games the two clubs have played during the Ron Gardenhire era coming into the season. Four of those 17 losses came against in-his-prime Johan Santana as well. Splitting six games isn’t a disaster, but sheesh, it really would have been nice to pad the win total again.

2. At what point does Clay Rapada start stealing some of the high-leverage matchup work away from Boone Logan? Logan has allowed runs — either his own or inherited — in four his last nine appearances with an overall 5.26 ERA (4.62 FIP) in 25.2 innings since the calendar flipped to July. Lefties are now hitting .235/.285/.361 (130 PA) off him this season while Rapada has held same-side hitters to a .190/.268/.260 line (113 PA). If nothing else, Boone probably just needs a breather. He’s appeared in 77 games (!) and seems to warm up even when he doesn’t get into the game.

3. Building on that point — doesn’t it seem like Joe Girardi is becoming a little Joe Torre-ish with his reliever usage? I get that the games and division race are close and everything, but he has a clear Circle of Trust™ and has leaned on those folks heavily down the stretch. Strong bullpens have been a staple the last few years, but this season the relief corps is quite leaky. Obviously Mariano Rivera‘s injury is a big part of that, but was the bullpen so effective from 2009-2011 because of how Girardi used it, or did the relievers just make the skipper look smart? It’s probably a little both, really. Either way, the bullpen has now allowed runs in six of the team’s last eight games. Yikes.

4. Might as well end with a positive: how amazing has Andy Pettitte this year? Obviously the leg injury is really unfortunate, but otherwise he’s pitched to a 2.71 ERA (3.32 FIP) in eleven starts and 69.2 innings. This is a 40-year-old guy who willingly spent a full year away from baseball, and yet he’s returned better than ever. Back in Spring Training I joked a bunch (I think I even said it in the podcast and in the weekly chat a few times) about the year off doing good for his arm and body overall, but I didn’t expect this. Eric wrote about this yesterday but it’s worth repeating: the veteran guys — particularly Pettitte and Derek Jeter — having been coming huge all season.

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Logan lets the lead get away in loss to Twins
A-Rod day-to-day with sore left foot
  • blake

    You have to be able to easily put a “Y” or “IE” on the end of the players name to get in the circle of trust…..Boonie is in …..rolls rigt off Joes tongue….Clay or Rapada is almost impossible to do.

    • MannyGeee

      Rappy?

      Claie??

      fuck it, cut him. We have Davie (Aardsmie??) waiting in the (nick naming) wings…

    • Mike HC

      haha

    • sangreal

      He’ll think of something. The guy who calls Cervelli “Cervie” doesn’t embarrass easily.

  • Better off Eddard

    1. Girardi blew it last night. A 3 game lead with 8 to play would be virtually impossible to overcome given the remaining schedule for the Yanks. We also could have came within a game of best record. Hughes should have had the opportunity to get that last out, not Boone.

    2. Clay has been better but Girardi will go with Boone because of experience. We’ll need them for Fielder, Dunn, Hamilton.

    3. The problem is for much of the season there has only been 2 or 3 pitches in that circle of trust. Joba added another. They’ve also played a lot of close games and had mediocre starters due to injuries. Phelps was forced into the rotation taking away a reliable arm in the pen.

    4. There’s not one other Yankee pitcher I’d want on the mound in an elimination game. They doubted Andy when he came back the 1st time, doubted him again the 2nd time and he’s put up 11 scoreless. I’d never bet against Andy.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Hughes should have had the opportunity to get that last out, not Boone.

      And if Hughes gave up the double to Span, you would have been the first one screaming that Girardi should have gone to Logan.

      Hindsight is 20-20.

      • bg90027

        Disagree. I didn’t see the point in going to the pen there either. They left him in with runners on first and third and no one out and then with the bases loaded and one out and take him out after he strikes out a guy to get to 2 outs? Didn’t make much sense to me. Span was hitless against him and hadn’t hit the ball out of the infield. If he’d have gone to the bullpen earlier in the inning, I would have understood the decision more. Logan is clearly tired. His fastball has lost a few MPH and his breaking pitches don’t have the same bite.

        • gc

          Hughes was also at 99 pitches at that point. Whether or not people agree with the whole pitch count thing, it does play into these decisions somewhat. He really labored through that last inning, throwing 26 pitches, more than he threw in any other previous inning in the game. It’s easy to look back NOW and say he should have been left in, but it’s not like it was a no-brainer at the time. An equally legitimate argument could be made that going to the bullpen there was perfectly reasonable. Now, whether the right call was to go to Boone or not is more up in the air. Regardless, the reliever has to do a better job, period.

          • Cris Pengiucci

            Agree. While I would have been inclined to leave Hughes in to try to get out of the inning (NOTE: I AM NOT A MLB MANAGER!), this was a situation that called for a lefty specialist. This one is on Logan, not Girardi.

    • Go Back To Syrio Forel

      Trade Girardi.

  • Frank

    The first thing Girardi and the Yanks need to do is stop thinking of Logan as a “lefty specialist.” He’s not. Hopefully, they can obtain a “lefty specialist” this off season along with a right handed bat and another starter.

  • LarryM., Fl.

    Disappointment over the blown opportunity to achieving the goal. I believe Girardi made the proper moves but Logan is spent and has blown a few of these games by allowing inherited runners or his own to score. The boy could use some rest but there is no time to rest. So suck it up and pitch your best that’s all we can ask.

    Hughes looked quite annoyed at the outcome but Phil has shown the ability to caught it up. So we play today as if if yesterday never happened. Arod needs to come to life for this to go deep into October.

    • Frank

      If you’re hanging your hopes on A-Rod for playoff success, you’re in for a major disappoitment.

      • Bartolo’s Colon

        comment from exactly three years ago?

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    5. girardi thinks that ibanez can play the of

    assuming logan continues to dissapoint in the postseason, rapada may be our only LOOGY option. if this is the case, any chance that cc or pettitte can be sent out to get a tough lefty if it is their bp day? i’m not sure if this is ever done really, or if it would screw them up mentally (or physically), but do you think they would ever do this, in a non-elimination game?

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      I don’t know if this is what you are referring to but in the LCS in 2003 Torre used Wells, Mussina and Pettitte in relief. Of course that was do or die. Also the Yankees used Allie Reynolds many times when a shutdown was needed. Reynolds being a starter,of course, and the As used Catfish Hunter the same way.

      • Bartolo’s Colon

        I’m aware of that, and i would imagine he would definitely do it in a do or die situation, but I wonder if it would make sense to do it in game 1, for instance, with 2 outs 2 on and josh hamilton up to bat. particularly if it was cc or pettitte’s bp day

  • Evan3457

    Re: Rapada over Logan; yeah, OK, assuming the manager is not going to PH a righty for the lefty. Gardenhire almost certainly doesn’t PH for Span there, so yeah, that would’ve been fine. But Rapada has been so bad vs. righties that you can’t go to him if a team has a decent righty they can use.

    Re: Ibanez in the OF, well…
    1) Cano is the DH because Girardi wants to give him the day off.
    2) Ibanez can’t DH last night.
    3) Ibanez all of a sudden got hot again.
    4) You’re facing a not terribly good righty
    5) So Ibanez has to play left.

    No other choice if you want Ibanez’ bat in the lineup.

    • JM

      Why would they pinch hit their leadoff hitter…? Still Rapada > Logan all day especially in the second half

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      understood on the ibanez thing, but when you have a two run lead in the 7th right after ibanez had an ab, how do you not but dickerson in there?

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Boone seems somewhere in between “overworked” and “promoted to the level of his incompetence.”

    I “blame” him for last night (if assigning blame is even useful beyond just blowing steam.) I also have gotten over it and, like it or not, he’s been a major part of the Mo-less bullpen this year. Having Mo gone is almost forgotten sometimes. Everyone, other than David Robertson, took a step up the ladder. Just because Soriano’s handled the closer’s job amazingly well does not mean there’s not a cost to losing Mo.

    I’m fine with early hooks right now and playing to win on the manager’s part, even if it backfires on him. Perhaps we overplayed the “missed opportunity” hand last night in the game thread, but I do agree with the simplest of logic which dictates that the Yanks win the division if they win as many of the remaining games as possible.

    Andy’s amazing. Splitting six games is splitting six games. Doesn’t mean jack.

    • thenamestsam

      I think you hit the nail on the head with “promoted to the level of his incompetence”. Is Boone overworked? Sure, probably somewhat, but it’s completely ex-post rationalization to blame Girardi on that basis. It’s not like Boone never blew a game two years ago when he was appearing 40 times instead of 80.

      The reality is that Boone is a fine reliever, but he’s never going to be some lockdown guy. If your bullpen is in a situation where you have to bring him in a big spot, sometimes you’re going to get burned. You wish you had a shutdown guy to bring in every time there’s a big spot, but that’s almost never going to be the case.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Bullpens are volatile and limited across the board. No one has a bottomless bullpen.

        It’s actually kind of funny that the impression that my non-Yankee fan friends have of the Yankees is that they pull out quality relievers from thin air.

        Being promoted to the level of your incompetence is part of sports and, basically, part of life. Needs happen and, sometimes, the person to fill it isn’t your ideal choice. You hope that the concept of the “zone of proximal development” (yes, I am getting all child psychology up in your asses) works, and that people rise to the task, but they sometimes don’t have the skills to pull it off in the long term (hi, Cory Wade.) I hope I know beforehand before it happens to me.

    • gc

      Ha-rumph!

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        I didn’t get a ha-rumph out of that guy!

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I can’t give you a ha-rumph every time, Willie. I will only dissapoint.

    • Hummingbird S.

      You’re right. It’s not Girardi’s fault, Phil looked gassed. He went with his #1 lefty reliever, unfortunately he didn’t get the job done. Boone’s the one to blame, not the manager.

  • VT Yankee Fan

    I hate the “pre-programmed” bullpen methodology. In this era of advanced metrics managers still insist on using their best relievers in lower leverage situations and putting in Boone Logan types in with the bases loaded against the top of the order. Lefties hit about 20 points higher against Boone than Robertson or Soriano. Even Joba’s OBA is a little better against lefties. So why use Logan in that situation?

    Speaking of Joba I’m happy to see that he has not allowed an earned run in his last 9 appearances. If he keeps that up it can take a lot of the workload off some of the other guys.

  • David Ortizs Dealer

    I am all for firing Larry Rothchild, he ruined arms in Chicago, I dont see how hes helping Joba, Hughes, Phillips, Warren, or Nova. I am sure he has input on the bullpen usage as well.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Whose arm did he ruin in Chicago? Mark Prior and … ?

      • MannyGeee

        Jake Peavy’s and Javy Vazquez’s and Andre Dawson’s, of course. get it together Axisa!

        • MannyGeee

          oh, and also… Steve Bartman’s walkman holding shoulder has never been the same.

          *resisting the temptation to bring Obama into this, on account of the “no politics” thing…*

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Ernie Banks.

      • David Ortizs Dealer

        Kerry Wood flamed out ….

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Kerry Wood got hurt long before Rothschild was there.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I think we’re reached a new low for stretching blame around.

      I blame the guy in charge of the Yankeetron. If he doesn’t put their faces up on the big screem, they can’t actually enter the game.

      Also, the late organist, Eddie Layton (wait….is he alive?). Without doing the “Charge!” stuff on the organ, the game wouldn’t be allowed to progress, sparing the arms of unneeded innings.

      Most of all, I blame Ted.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        What about A-Rod?

  • jjyank

    Meh, I think the whole “blame game” thing is a little overblown. I am of the opinion that it comes down to the players, and a manager’s role is generally very much overstated. Boone’s job is to get the lefties, and he let three of them beat him. So if I’m going to blame anyone, it’s him.

    But it’s a new day, there’s a new game, and arguing about who is to blame is really pointless.

    • Matt

      If he brought in Nick Swisher to pitch in that spot instead, would you be saying that it’s his job to get out lefties? Or that the manager should be bringing in guys better suited to getting the job done?

      Of Hughes, Robertson, Rapada, and Logan, the pitchers we might consider Girardi’s “options” for that situation, Logan has the highest BAA for lefties of the bunch. He has always been badly overworked lately, having thrown 43 pitches combined on the 22nd and 23rd with only 1 day off between them.

      On the other hand, Robertson had 2 days off and threw only 10 pitches the previous night. Hughes has held Span to an 0-3 line with 2 weak ground balls and a bunt ground out in the game. Rapada holds lefties to an average 35 points lower than Logan.

      He made the wrong decision. Period. He lowered the chance of success of his team both in the short-run and long-run with his move. The outcome is irrelevant, because he can’t control whether the player gets the out or not. All he can do is put guys in the best spots to succeed, and he failed at that.

      • Matt

        Also, note that Span’s bunt out was in his 3rd at bat.

        The fact that he was even trying to bunt for a base hit in that spot shows you that he didn’t feel like he had a good chance of getting a hit off of Hughes after 2 at bats against him in the game so far.

        Keep in mind that this is a guy who is hitting over .285 on the season who historically has done well against Hughes, who has decided that he can’t hit him in that spot.

      • jjyank

        “If he brought in Nick Swisher to pitch in that spot instead, would you be saying that it’s his job to get out lefties? Or that the manager should be bringing in guys better suited to getting the job done?”

        I won’t even point out what a useless example this is.

        As for the rest of your point, maybe. I never said that I agree with the decision, or I would have done the same. I just said that the blame is one Logan, he didn’t do his job. I’ve sat through game threads all too often when people blast Girardi for “being asleep at the wheel” and leaving starters in too long. It’s a lose-lose position as an MLB manager. They all make mistakes, and they all will get criticism for whatever they do.

        I choose to focus on the pitcher not executing. Feel free to disagree, but I’ve learned my lesson arguing with you. So I’ll leave it at that.

        • gc

          Maybe he should have visited the mound to talk to Hughes before taking him out. That would have been the respectful thing to do. Anything less would be……..what’s the word?

        • Matt

          It is not a useless example. Since you are incapable of distinguishing between bad decisions and bad outcomes, I have to pick a very extreme example to demonstrate the point.

          If you bring in the pitcher who is least likely to succeed, you can’t be surprised when he… doesn’t succeed. Logan has been worn down lately. His ability to get out hitters right now is less than his overall season numbers, and less than many other relievers in the pen.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      If you don’t blame, and blame loudly, then you’re fine with everything that’s going on, aren’t holding the team accountable, and don’t have an opinion. #damnhomer

      This is also generalizable to just about any other spectator activity.

      But let’s play the blame game anyway, and I solely would blame Logan in that case. Matt, below/above is, of course, entitled to his opinion on the matter as well.

      • Rocky Road Redemption

        Indeed.

  • Darren

    I would not have second guessed Girardi for leaving in Hughes, only 90+ pitches & still-dealing after he just blew away the last hitter he faced. Span was hitting .300 against lefties anyway. Classic, classic case of over managing. It happens. A lot.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    I was watching the Twins broadcast last night and to my surprise Bert Blyleven and his co anchor have this obession about beating the Yankees. According to them,the Twins will never amount to anything unless they beat the Yankees. That is what I understood from what they were saying. I tell you that obsession has them out of their minds.

  • Better off Eddard

    I just hope Girardi exercises better judgment in the postseason. I hope it’s just Phil that he has a short rope with. The other 3 starters should not be removed in the middle of an inning in a close ballgame unless it’s in favor of Robertson or Soriano.

    Sometimes I don’t think Girardi has a good feel for the game. Phil should have been removed vs Baltimore when Mark Reynolds was coming up and wasn’t. Result- Home run, lead lost. Phil was obviously laboring and needed to be pulled. Phil should not have been removed last night when he had just struck out the prior batter and had gotten Span out the whole game. He was taken out. Result- Lead lost. That’s two games Girardi cost us in the heat of a pennant race.

  • Rich in NJ

    The “Circle of Trust™” type of thing is the reason I believe that it’s good to change managers every five years or so because they tend to lose what originally made them good managers.

  • The Real Greg

    I do agree with Mike on Rapada. I think Joe should start giving him appearances ahead of Logan.

    I think the past burnings that Hughes has had when Girardi was slow to relieve him was the main reason that he was removed last night. Even when he was pitching well. In one of the Baltimore games he was pitching well until the fifth inning and then it blew up in his face just like that.

    As I said last night, he’s going to be questioned, but I understand what he’s doing.

  • http://unclemikesmusings.blogspot.com Uncle Mike

    “Becoming” Torre-ish? He’s been Torre-ish all along.

    If a relief pitcher can’t get a batter of the opposite hand out, he does not belong in the major leagues, and he certainly does not belong on the New York Yankees. Boone Logan can’t get righthanders out, and he’s having trouble with lefties, too. Trade him to the Mets: It would improve both teams’ bullpens. And the Mets can give us… uh, what do they have that we would want… a year’s supply of shack shakes?